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Cote d'Ivoire: Experts call for common strategy to fight bird flu

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  • Cote d'Ivoire: Experts call for common strategy to fight bird flu


    Cote d'Ivoire: Experts call for common strategy to fight bird flu

    Experts on livestock development and trade as well as their counterparts in professional associations drawn from all 15-Member States of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have called for the adoption of a common strategy in the fight to prevent and control avian influenza.

    They have also called for a common regulation on the establishment of farms and the movement of poultry products in the region.

    In a communiqué after a weeklong workshop in Abidjan, which ended on Wednesday, the experts proposed new strategies for revitalizing activities of the regional plan of action for the prevention and control of avian influenza and the different available networks.

    These include the epidemiological surveillance network, national diagnostic laboratory network, sector socio-economic network and avian influenza communication network.

    The workshop considered how to return the poultry sector to the pride of place it once enjoyed.

    The participants called for an increased investment in animal health, taking into account the need to enhance veterinarian assistance to players in the poultry sector, strengthening epidemio-surveillance programmes in member states as well as developing, enhancing and applying bio-security in the whole poultry sector.

    "All rescue measures will be carried out within the framework of the implementation of the ECOWAS Common Agricultural Policy (ECOWAP)," they said in the communiqué received by PANA on Thursday.

    It said participants at the workshop assessed the status of implementation of the regional mechanism of coordination of the prevention and response against avian influenza and validated results of the socio-economic impact study of avian influenza as it affects West Africa.

    It noted that the sector's downward trend began in early February 2006 when the first outbreak of avian influenza was reported in Nigeria and six other Member States - Niger, Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Togo and Benin - with the attendant socio-economic consequences, including a marked drop in the consumption of poultry and poultry products, their prices, closure of poultry farms, a ban on imports and exports of poultry and poultry products, among others.

    It said the workshop also stressed the need to stimulate the consumption of poultry and its products through effective sensitization campaigns and provision of accurate information to all stakeholders, especially consumers, those involved in production, processing and commercialization of poultry and its products.

    "In this regard, participants recommended the establishment of a mechanism for collecting, storing, managing and disseminating data on the poultry sector.

    "In particular, they urged the development of a geo-referenced repertoire of poultry farms, sites and markets and the creation of a web site dedicated to issues related to avian influenza in the region."

    The communiqué said while considering the need to share best practices, participants encouraged a stronger interface between countries on cross-border diseases and the strengthening of partnerships between research-development centres on the poultry industry.

    "This strengthening of information and communication, which should form part of a larger set of integrated programme of activities on the prevention and control of avian influenza, would greatly benefit both affected and non-affected countries."

    Participants noted the collaboration between the ECOWAS Commission and the Regional Centre for Animal Health (CRSA) in Bamako, the Commission's technical arm on matters relating to animal health and the revitalization of the poultry sector, and called for strengthening of the diagnostic capacities of Member States.

    Specific support was called for Liberia and Sierra Leone where the capacities of their veterinary services need to be shored up.

    While expressing concern over the inadequate financing of programmes, they called for the rapid intervention of the ECOWAS Commission to enable an urgent mobilization of funds from the African Development Bank (ADB) and other sources for the control of avian influenza in the region.

    The regional emergency intervention fund domiciled at the ADB was established in 2006 to finance joint actions within the context of the prevention and control of avian influenza and the revitalization of the poultry industry.

    Participants, in addition, requested the support of the ECOWAS Commission in the promotion of funding at concessional rates for poultry operators at all levels.

    "The availability of funds will enhance the execution of specific responsibilities to be undertaken by Member States as recommended by the workshop.

    "Such responsibilities include the preparation of a research development plan with minimum standards of bio-security applicable in village-based poultry farming, the development for risk management strategies in the poultry sector, the establishment of a consistent budget for financing plans and different networks (laboratories, epidemiological surveillance, socio-economy and communication) as well as the promotion of the cultivation of grains such as maize and soya beans to improve farmers' access to feed input."

    The recommendations by the experts will be submitted to the next meeting of ministers of the Steering Committee of the Sub-regional Mechanism of Prevention and Control of Avian Influenza.

    Noting the two new outbreaks in July 2008 in northern Nigeria, the ministers are expected to act urgently and involve their counterparts from Cameroon, Chad and Mauritania which participated actively in an ECOWAS meeting of Ministers in charge of Livestock, Public Health and African Integration in June 2006 in Abuja.

    Abidjan - 26/09/2008